The European Parliament voted last week to approve a college of commissioners with much to prove in terms of its commitment to environmentally-sustainable policies and effective measures to fight climate change. The Commission was formally accepted by the European Council on Friday morning.
Last week, the European Council composed of heads of states and governments reached an agreement on the EU’s climate and energy targets for post-2020. We ended up with three targets: greenhouse gas reductions of at least 40% with binding national targets; a 27% target for renewable energy; and a non-binding 27% target for energy efficiency. The deal is fraught with “flexibilities”, and includes significant money transfers to poorer and coal-dependent EU countries. But what does this deal mean for transport?
EU heads of state today agreed three modest climate and green energy targets for 2030 , which lack the ambition needed to put Europe on track to meet its own 2050 climate commitments  and will not do enough to cut dependence on fossil fuels. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) says that now targets have been agreed, all eyes should turn towards implementation: the means and policies to achieve these 2030 targets can still make a big difference for the climate and the transition to a low-carbon economy where transport is crucial.
In the two European Parliament hearings, which were clearly designed to avoid undue controversy, both Commissioners-designate Maroš Šefčovič and Violeta Bulc displayed a good grasp of their briefs but stayed clear of strong statements, let alone concrete commitments.
Did you know that every car in Europe uses a blend of biofuels? This is because of EU law. And to meet this demand, global production of biofuels has skyrocketed. You may think ‘bio’ means biofuels are always good for the planet. But because biofuels are derived from plant products, any increase in their use has a direct impact on agriculture worldwide. That means more deforestation to make way for new agricultural land, releasing the stored-up carbon of rainforests into the air and driving up global food prices. Co-produced by T&E, BirdLife Europe, and the European Environmental Bureau, The Little Book of Biofuels explains this Butterfly Effect of Europe’s biofuels policy and how we can end it.
Following commissioner hearings at the European Parliament, the Green 10 believes MEPs must reject the Commission unless rigorous changes of mandates, job titles and re-allocation of posts are made along the lines indicated by the Green 10 in the letter to the Conference of Presidents and Conference of Chairs on 3 October 2014.
Several transport stakeholders, including civil society organisations and industry players, wrote to EU institutions to highlight the importance of keeping dedicated policies for the decarbonisation of the transport sector. They argued that this policy framework should be based on a decarbonisation target, promoting fuels and energy with the highest carbon savings, avoiding fragmentation of the EU market, and ensuring long-term visibility and stability for investments.
Transport & Environment's reaction to the Parliament hearing for Commissioner-designate for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete.
Despite three-hours of grilling by MEPs of the Commissioner-designate for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete failed to explain how there is no conflict of interest with his brother-in-law Miguel Domecq Solís being a director of two oil companies.